Saturday, February 14, 2009

Butter nuts

It is the season for winter squash. Acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash are abundant and cheap right now and you can make them into just about anything.
That said, I hate squash, hate hate hate it. Now I have nothing against it, I really want to like it, because it's abundant, cheap and can be made into just about anything but the flavors have never really been my favorite. I can enjoy a butternut squash soup now and again, but generally I stay away from it.

Last week I decided that with my new found love of roasting all vegetables, I had to give them a second chance. It only cost me about $1 anyway. The roasting process itself is fairly self explanatory, but I admit I had no idea how to actually prepare one for cooking.

So here is a photo exploration of preparing the most phallic of all vegetables for roasting, the butternut squash.

Cut off the top and bottom so it will stand
Olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.

425 F for about 30 min or until crispy.

Verdict: This was okay, a lot better than squash I've had in the past. I'm sure actual squash lovers would enjoy it a lot more than I did. It actually was nice leftover, served with huevos rancheros as kind of of a pseudo plantain (another thing I don't like).
I need to find another squash recipe though, I bought 2 of the damn things and it's sitting in my pantry staring at me, imploring at me to use it before it goes bad.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Couscous Pie

This is the ultimate flexible leftover-user recipe. I adapted this from a polenta pie I made several weeks ago, substituting whatever I had in my fridge or my pantry.

Begin by cooking your couscous so it will have a chance to cool, approx a 1:1 ratio of couscous to water or flavorful liquid (I used chicken broth). Let cool and then dish into a pie pan. Form it up as best you can into something like a pie crust. I didn't get too fussy with this step, but I did try to compress it as much as I could so it would stay together. I put the crust into a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes before I put in the ingredients, but I don't think it's absolutely necessary.

Saute your ingredients before they go into the pie, to mix their flavors and soften them up. I went with Onions and Kale, and after they had softened up I added a can of tomatoes (Better than fresh this time of year), black beans, garlic, green beans, and some assorted seasoning. Feel free to use whatever you want, just try to keep it relatively dry or it will saturate the bottom layer of couscous.

Take your crust out of the oven and fill with ingredients.. but not too full. At this point you can either bake it as is, or cobble together some sort of pseudo couscous crust. I chose the latter, and I'm really glad I did.

Bake at 400, for about 30 minutes, or until the couscous on top starts to brown.
It's not going to hold together very well, but that doesn't matter.. just scrape it out as best you can and top it preferably with some decent parmigiano reggiano, but any sort of strong cheese would do.. it really brings the flavors together. The couscous on top should be crispy and delicious, and the "crust" should hold together fairly well.

This recipe works even better with cornmeal or polenta, so use it if you have it.

Cooking time start to finish. About an hour, with 30 minutes of that being in the oven.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The story of an impusive buy

Self control is not one of my strengths, especially when it comes to new cooking toys. I own a rice cooker, a digital scale, 2(!) sets of measuring spoons, an immersion blender, hand mixer, a George Foreman grill... even a magic bullet blender! So what do you think I did is when I spotted a brand new toy for the very reasonable cost of $39 at a local housewares store?

Why i brought it home of course.

The only down side to this particular impulsive buy is that I can't immediately go home and start playing with it, I had to let the bucket freeze overnight. That night I dreamed of the many delicious flavors I would concoct.. Strawberry, Chocolate, Strawberry Chocolate!, Coffee, mint chip...bacon? chicken? chicken and bacon topped with gravy ice cream? who knows where this could take me.

My ice cream creations will be a terrible hybrid of art and science, half Bob Ross, half Dr. Frankenstein. Soon my creations will be unleashed upon the world... and I'll blog about it.